Joe, gets a lot of things right in his latest post. I think we sometimes lose track of the reason we do what we do, which is to create an entertaining story. I’m guilty of it myself, and I’m glad we have someone there keep us grounded.
Thanks for another great post Joe.
My father is a fine woodworker and he makes amazing and beautiful things with wood: furniture, jewelry boxes, lamps and even soap box derby cars for my nephew.
He always says that no one will truly understand the time it takes to make something out of wood. Now I understand that statement, more than ever. Vampire Mob sometimes feels like I’m making a hand-carved dining room set to seat twenty, but it’s fun.
A year ago we were shooting season one and having fun doing it, which was the whole point. We start shooting season two on Sunday night and the goal is the same, have fun. Yes, there’s lots of work to do, but it’s fun.
Fun is important. All of the work I’ve done to make this story was fun and continues to be fun. Even when our second camera fucked up and I couldn’t digitize the footage, figuring it out was fun!
I talk to lots of people who make web series and sometimes I ask, “Is it fun?” The answer always has a different tone than if I asked, “Who is the demographic for your story?” You know why? Demographics are not fun.
Here’s some advice about making a web series, at least what I will post publicly (wink emoticon denoting sarcasm):
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ to opportunities that APPEAR to be good.
If a web site or company is offering you money for your show and they get ownership, look at what they’ve done for other shows and answer this question: Who cares more about my story, me or this company? Is the money worth it? Does saying yes cut you off from other opportunities or give them control of the story?
- EVERYONE is an expert and they are all wrong.
Wow, there are a lot of people out there more than happy to tell you what to do and why what you’re doing is wrong. Of course, they’re not all wrong, but for such a young “industry” there sure is a lot of dogma being thrown around by many self-proclaimed “experts” and “pioneers of a new industry.”
If there are demonstrable, repeatable successes using the dogma and methodology spouted, then why isn’t everyone doing exactly that and being successful? Easy answer, because there aren’t any.
If someone wants you to pay them for advice, research who they are and what they’ve done. If all they’ve done is set up a web site stating that they are an expert in web series and how much it costs to access that expertise, run the other way.
All opportunities are not good, read the fine print and don’t be a sucker.
- Pay attention to what’s going on in Indie filmmaking and distribution.
Read about what Indie filmmakers are doing to release their films and build their own audiences! Kevin Smith, Ed Burns and Jon Reiss are three people whose ideas about the business side of indie filmmaking I find refreshing. I find almost no one talking about the business of web series that inspires me at all. Sorry, that’s the truth. I see lots of rule spouting and tail-chasing, but very little thinking that doesn’t look like the emulation of old models.
Why are so many people who make web series running to companies, web sites and brands to make their stories when Indie filmmakers see the huge opportunity and freedom in making and distributing their own stories? It’s baffling to me.
- Asking your friends, cast & crew to pay money to see your show screened is not audience building.
So, let me get this straight? I pay an entry fee to a film festival so they can screen my show in a theatre, which is free worldwide on the internet, and then I get to ask my friends, cast and crew to pay money to see it in a mostly empty theater?
I know, some major player might see it or I might meet them or pitch to them or whatever, but doesn’t that seem like the old model of trying to sell an indie film? I get it, networking’s important. But, again, don’t be a sucker.
- Awards are not audience building.
An “award-winning web series” still garners the question by the majority of the population - “What’s a web series?” People care about stories, they don’t care about the form that story is told in or if it won an award. People say what shows they like, they don’t say, “I love hour dramas.” There have been lots of popular television shows that never won an Emmy and lots of Oscar-winning films that make less money than their crappy competition.
- If you’ve never written a script, taken a class or read a book about screenwriting…
And you just wrote a web series and plan to shoot it, Fuck You.
You can shoot it on a RED, spout demographics and sponsor opportunities until the end of time but here’s what all your friends are afraid to tell you - IT SUCKS.
The script sucks, the story sucks, the characters make no sense, you have huge plot holes and there is almost no story being told.
Anyone who knows how to write a script can look at one page and see that you do not. I know, you’re the golden gifted writer who doesn’t need classes or rewrites. Again, Fuck You.
You can blame whatever you want for your show not being successful, but the person who wrote it and thought it should be on the net, I’d start there.
- Cast from local theatre.
I hate auditioning actors as much as I am not a fan of auditioning as an actor. If you see live theater on a regular basis, you will see lots of actors. When I’m writing, I like to have an actor in mind for the character I’m writing, even if I don’t cast that actor, having them in mind helps the writing.
But it’s also nice to be able to walk up to an actor after a play, introduce yourself as someone who is working on something and you’d like to talk to them about acting in it. Even if you do auditions, seeing someone work is better than throwing a page at them in an audition never having seen them before.
Wow, I could keep going! But that’s enough, I’ve got work to do!
One more! Don’t forget to have fun!